JOHANNESBURG, April 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Africa's biggest generic drug maker, Aspen Pharmacare, has entered into a nonexclusive agreement with US drug maker Gilead Sciences to manufacture its patented AIDS drugs.
Local daily Business Day reported on Tuesday that under the terms of the deal, which would be finalized in September, Aspen would have the distribution rights for the Truvada and Viread drugs in Africa.
The deal is good news for Aspen as it broadens its portfolio of antiretroviral AIDS drugs, which already includes generic copies of patented drugs made by Glaxo SmithKline, Boehringer Ingelheim and Bristol-Meyers Squibb.
But AIDS activists questioned whether the deal would bring prices down for patients. AIDS law project attorney Jonathan Berger said the deal meant Aspen would take over part of Gilead's not-for-profit market, rather than becoming a competitor offering cheaper, generic versions of the drugs.
Aspen's head of strategic trade, Stavros Nicolau, said Gilead would provide Aspen with the ingredients and technology to make the drugs, and Aspen would seek licensing approval in African countries where they were not registered. Aspen had lodged an application to register Viread with the Medicines Control Council and planned to follow suit with Truvada shortly.
Nicolau declined to comment on projected sales volumes, but said the African market had strong potential as only about 7-8 percent of patients who needed AIDS drugs had access to them.
Viread and Truvada are new-generation antiretrovirals that are increasingly prescribed in the United States and Europe for strains of HIV that are resistant to other drugs. They had fewer side effects and were taken only once a day, said Nicolau. Enditem